Durban steadies her racing legs

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nm july 7 (26720680) INLSA The fresh Durban breeze and warm winter sun play with television presenter Liezel van der Westhuizens sensational Haroun Hansrot-designed dress at Greyville racecourse yesterday. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad

Durban - It was all delivery trucks, elbow grease and unflattering overalls at Greyville racecourse on Thursday as preparations for the 2012 Vodacom Durban July entered the final stretch in what has been a race to be ready in time for the big event.

Many will work through Friday night so that the event that has been in the making since September last year lives up to the expectations of the 50 000 punters and revellers who will descend on the racecourse on Saturday.

“It’s hectic at the moment,” Gold Circle events and marketing manager Ken Tweddell said on Thursday between proof-reading press releases and fielding calls before going to collect prizes for the best-dressed winners. Tweddell said it was about ensuring that what was promised materialised.

“If I’ve done my job properly I shouldn’t have much to do on race day,” he replied when asked if it was all work and no play.

Tweddell said this year’s July was expected to surpass all others, with a larger then usual number of GP-licence plates heading for Durban.

The N3 toll concession authorities estimated that 16 000 vehicles would pass through the Mooi River toll plaza today – up from last year’s 12 003.

Traffic volumes were expected to increase significantly from midday onwards yesterday, as visitor numbers were bolstered by the dip in the fuel price, and with the Sharks and Bulls going head to head on Friday night.

“There’s no accommodation, tickets are near sold out. Africa’s premier horserace is also about the glitz, glamour, people and networking,” said Lihle Dlamini of Tourism KZN.

As far as Dlamini was concerned, the rain forecast for tomorrow evening would not spoil things.

Tourism KZN said the city stood to rake in R300 million over this weekend. Statistics show that out-of-towners splurge about R8 333, while the 34 percent of those who come from elsewhere in KZN spend about R1 300 on tickets, transport, food, drink and fashion.

Six of more than 30 sites in the marquee village alone, catered for by Golden Circle, required 15 000 meals, 40 chefs, 18 000 beers and 350 waiters and barmen. The décor included 295 tablecloths, 296 flower arrangements, 770 napkins and 324 candles.

At the privately organised sites, brand campaigner Lauren Winchester, the brain behind the design of the Nampak venue, was hoping to win the company its second “best marquee” title after its success at Cape Town’s J&B Met in January.

Metro police spokesman Eugene Msomi, who will head a team of 200 officers, has warned that the roads around the racecourse will be restricted to one lane only.

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